Sunday, April 30, 2006

Trust: How to

Here USA Today journalist William M. Welch delivers us a sample of his grounds for writing an article that treats the 9-11 conspiracy-theory movie "Loose Change" as seductive quackery. Interspersed with this section of Welch's article, I talk about what he is teaching us about trust:

Among the assertions in Loose Change is that a missile hit the Pentagon even though eyewitnesses saw the jet, numerous pieces of wreckage were found including the flight recorder, and those on the flight and in its path at the Pentagon are dead.

[Comment: According to whom did how many eyewitnesses see what? How consistent are the testimonies with each other and with the kind of plane we're told crashed? According to whom was the wreckage consistent with that kind of plane? Was much of the wreckage that we'd expect to find found, and is it surprising that any parts not found were not found? Who says who found the flight recorder and who says, in what way, that the information on the recorder is consistent with the kind of plane we're told hit the Pentagon? What are the names of the people who are supposed to have died on the flight, or who claims to know those names, and who has met how many loved ones of the supposed deceased from the supposed plane? One who trusts is untroubled by such questions.]

There is also the claim that because jet fuel burns at up to 1,500 degrees and steel melts at 2,750 degrees, the World Trade Center's infrastructure could not have been brought down by the airliners. However, as reported by the Journal of the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society, steel loses 50% of its strength at 1,200 degrees, enough for a failure.

[Comment: Did that article say the failure of the metal on a few adjacent floors could reliably (twice in a row) cause an entire tower to collapse with the speed and in the elegantly straightforward manner that it did? The trusting mind worries not.]

"The only thing they (the filmmakers) seem to have gotten right about the Sept. 11 attacks is the date when they occurred," says Debra Burlingame, whose brother was the pilot of American Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon.

"They aren't truth-tellers looking to save the world," she says. "They're con artists hoping to sucker conspiracy-theory paranoids or anti-government malcontents into shelling out their hard-earned dollars."

[Comment: Who gave you Debra Burlingame's name, Bill, and how much do you know about her? Only trust, and all shall be transparent.]

Bill Welch shows that resisting the allure of skepticism is within the power of all of us. Thank you, Bill Welch.

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